An estimated 1.7 million people in Hong Kong defied police orders to stage a peaceful march after a rally in a downtown park.
Huge crowds filled Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon and spilled on to nearby streets, forcing police to block traffic in the area. Torrential rain came down an hour into the rally, turning the park into a sea of umbrellas.
At the same time, protesters walked towards Central, the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, and surrounded government headquarters.
The protests were sparked by a controversial extradition bill, which has since been suspended. The bill have would allow extradition from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland.
Critics argue that the proposal would undermine the territory’s judicial independence and could be used to target those who speak out against the Chinese government.
The former British colony has a special status, with its own legal system and judiciary, and rights and freedoms not seen in mainland China.
The bill was suspended following mass rallies in June, but the protesters want it withdrawn altogether. Their current demands are:Complete withdrawal of the extradition bill.
The withdrawal of the “riot” description used about the 12 June protestsAn amnesty for all arrested protestersAn independent inquiry into alleged police brutalityUniversal suffrage in elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive (the city’s leader), and Legislative Council.
1.7 million people defy the rain to attend anti-government rally in Hong Kong. pic.twitter.com/EWVq5iIMH4
— #BBNaija Laila Ijeoma (@LailaIjeoma) August 19, 2019